LONDON // It was all very convivial at Stamford Bridge – perhaps too much so.
Chelsea were not really tested by a Hull City side who seemed overawed and showed virtually no fight until the second half, while the Tigers would probably be relieved to escape with a defeat that ended up being nowhere as embarrassing as it appeared it might be after an opening half-hour that Chelsea dominated.
Whether they found their feet or Chelsea eased off was difficult to say, but what was clear was that this was a very gentle start for Jose Mourinho's second stint at Stamford Bridge.
The contrasting mood could hardly have been more different to the first game of the last new manager at Stamford Bridge. Where Rafa Benitez emerged to boos and banners demanding his instant expulsion, Mourinho entered the stadium to an extraordinarily sentimental reception.
He had addressed his programme notes to his "Blues brothers" and blew kisses to all corners. This time the banners were universally positive: "Simply the Best", "One of us", "We love Jose", "Welcome Home", "We are the Happy Ones".
"It was fantastic," said Mourinho, "something you don't forget, something that made me think I made the right move coming back. I need them to support my team and sing my players' names.
"I need them to push Chelsea all the way. Enough Mourinho and come on Chelsea. I know they love and that's one of the reasons I said 'yes' to Mr Abramovich."
The whole atmosphere was one of togetherness: Owner Roman Abramovich addressed fans directly for the first time in his 10 years as owner, writing a 29-word message in the programme to thank them for their support, while the stadium announcer urged the crowd to greet "Your Chelsea" onto the pitch as though Benitez's reign, successful though it ultimately proved, were an unpleasant aberration best forgotten.
Mourinho could hardly have hoped for more compliant opponents. The Hull goalkeeper Allan McGregor seemed to have added his own welcome gift after five minutes, conceding a penalty by cuffing Fernando Torres after a curious sally from his goal. McGregor, though, on his Hull debut, quickly retracted his generosity, saving Frank Lampard's penalty. It was a temporary respite.
Chelsea, passing and moving deftly, with Kevin De Bruyne excelling in the centre of the midfield line of three, cut Hull apart again and again. McGregor had already made one block from Eden Hazard when Oscar rounded off a superb team goal, running on to De Bruyne's through-ball to poke the ball under the goalkeeper after 13 minutes. Only McGregor kept the score down, but he was at fault as Lampard added the second with a dipping free kick from 35 yards.
Thereafter, though, it was all anticlimactic, with both teams seemingly content with the score line.
"The first 25-30 minutes, it was just unstoppable, the intensity, the ground the way it was," said Steve Bruce, the Hull manager. "Not many teams could live with that."
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